I'm going to go ahead and apologize in advance for the meandering nature of this post. My brain is all over the place, so you'll have to bear with me. And also, I'm putting a trigger warning on here for discussion of suicide, just in case. :)
In a previous post, I discussed a pretty harsh battle with depression that I dealt with last year. Reading back through it, I realize that I've come a long way, both in terms of figuring out what depression actually is for me and in terms of how it affected and still affects me. It's odd to read a post that I'd written and think, "Wow, I had no idea what I was talking about." This is not to remove any truth from it; what I'd typed wasn't any less valid. It was just a snapshot of the bigger picture.
To be completely honest, I think I've always struggled with depression. Perhaps it comes with being an artist, I don't know; I'm not a shrink and I don't pretend to be. But I seem to go through these phases, where I'll be so full of life and ideas that I don't know where to begin with them, and it's exciting, fulfilling. I'm happy. And then the downs come: I won't be able to do anything creative and all I really want to do is curl up in bed, wrapped up in a huddle of pillows and blankets. The self-loathing sets in, and I'll wonder, "Am I any fucking good at anything? At the end of my life, will I have mattered? Probably not." This deep, gut-level feeling of complete emptiness engulfs me, and even as I try to carry on, nothing has meaning. The transition period between the two extremes is the worst, though. This is where I think depression truly lives. My emotions and thoughts exist separately, but my emotions are this curious thing that my conscious self (my thoughts) simply observe and go, "The fuck are you?" But I get exceptionally reflective in a very detached sort of way. I stare into space and focus on trying to who and what I am. I watch the sad episodes of all of my favorite TV shows and try to figure out how to relate to them.
And then there's the inexplicably juxtaposed part of the "recovery" period: I get ridiculously active. I start new exercise routines (that I give up within a few weeks because I'm bored). I change my hair color or drastically cut my hair. I try to draw or write anything, even if it's absolute shit (and it mostly always is just that). I scour the apartment or house to the point where my fingers bleed. I'm sure that, to some, it looks industrious, but honestly, it's all distraction. All a way for me to circumvent my feelings, whatever they may actually be.
It had been a few days after Malik Benjelloul, the Oscar-winning director of "Searching for Sugar Man," committed suicide in Sweden that I finally heard of his demise, but when I heard about it, I cried. Like, sat down and bawled. I wasn't friends with him and, at that point, hadn't even seen his film, so I didn't really have any real tangible reason to explain my distraught reaction. Thankfully, no one was around, so I could wallow in the misery without any judgments. I read the pieces on him, the interviews of family members and friends all of whom were still trying to sort through the reasons why, despite acknowledging that they'd probably never know, the articles describing his lifelong struggle with depression and also, oddly enough, his sincere and delightful passion that he threw into his art. I felt a kindred. I'm pretty sure I can be painted as someone that no one would even consider has had suicidal thoughts*, and some might say that I'm a very happy, passionate person. It's not necessarily that I'm acting, because when I'm there, oh. I'm THERE. But I also know how to affect it, enough that people wouldn't ever see this sort of post coming. And that's what Mr. Benjelloul got me thinking about: that maybe he had learned to play-act. To keep those he loved in the dark because he cared about them and didn't want them to worry. Or maybe he had gotten so good at doing that that he'd convinced himself up to the point where he couldn't lie to himself anymore. These are obviously speculations, and God knows there are plenty of people who knew him better that have a more nuanced understanding of his actions (although based on a statement from his older brother, that may not be true). This is not to say that I'm suicidal right now. I'm truly not. I'm in that Separate Place, but my mind has been pondering if I could ever actually go in that direction.
In Separate Place, I am watching this lingering sense of guilt that baffles me. I mean, my life has exponentially improved since moving to Louisville. The atmosphere is so much more freeing, so much that I feel limitless. Well, kind of. I KNOW that it is limitless. Three has an awesome job that doesn't exhaust him, so I am able to spend real, quality time with him, taking walks and just talking. There are tons of job prospects, and a bus line, that I didn't have in Crappy Small Town. I have the internet and plenty of places to explore, which sates my wanderlust like you wouldn't believe. At least, it should. And there's a comic store within a five-minute walk from my apartment. All of these things are available to me, and yet, I still am suffering from depression.
Does it ever go away? Will I forever ride the rollercoaster which is apparently my chemical makeup? Or is there some way out? A path for me to follow where I will eventually be okay? Or do I even want to be okay? Maybe the emotional craziness that I experience is the only way I can create. I have absolutely no idea and don't really know where to go from here. I suppose the only thing I can do is just exist right now, let the feelings ebb and flow until I get their natural rhythms and can just float along with them.
And so it goes, I suppose.
* Granted, I can't really call them suicidal, as I didn't really want to harm myself or actually die. I just wanted to not be alive for a little while. Do a little reboot and come back without all the nasty viruses or malware that my psychology had placed there. But to a lot of people, that kind of sounds like suicide, so.